Casting the net far and wide to boost foster carer numbers

Nottingham City Council has been working hard over the past year to recruit more foster carers.

The authority’s recruitment team, with support from senior politicians, has been out and about across the city spreading the message about the benefits of fostering – both to the child and the foster family.

The fostering service is always looking for people to become foster carers. There are around 600 children currently in care in Nottingham and increasing the number of local carers means more youngsters being placed with families where they can grow and learn.

Since the beginning of last year, recruitment activity has included:

  • Events in schools to engage parents and teachers
  • Events in churches and mosques
  • Events targeting health professionals at the Queen’s Medical Centre and other NHS venues
  • Events targeting police and fire service employees
  • Event at HMRC offices
  • Community events including Pride, Riverside, Splendour, plus various fun days, carnivals and markets across the city
  • Newly-branded website, literature and Facebook engagement
  • Referral scheme set up for existing carers

A total of 34 foster households have been approved since April 2017. In that time, six households have retired, leaving the Council with a net gain of 28 over the past 14 months.

Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at Nottingham City Council, regularly joins the fostering team at recruitment events.

He said: “We’ve made great progress in the past year in terms of attracting more foster carers. This on-going effort is really important because every new foster parent means another child, or sibling group, which can come out of care and experience the love and support of a family network.

“We can never have enough foster carers. Every year, some people will decide to retire from fostering and we have to keep pace with that, at the same time as steadily increasing numbers to help more children in care.

“That’s why recruitment is so important. Most recently, we supported a very successful Fostering Sunday event with local churches, who have pledged to find us 100 new foster carers by 2020.

“That followed some very promising conversations with faith leaders at city mosques, which we will follow up in the coming weeks.

“We also realise the enormous potential for certain professional groups to become foster carers, especially those approaching retirement. Teachers, healthcare staff and emergency services workers all make great carers.

“It is important to draw foster carers from all backgrounds, so we have recruitment staff at major Nottingham events like Pride, Splendour, Riverside and community fun days.”

The love and support of a stable family environment can make a huge difference to a child’s life. The process of becoming a foster carer takes around six months from the initial enquiry through to approval and training.

Support is provided throughout the process and this continues once a child has been placed with a foster family.

Nottingham City Council holds regular and informal information evenings every month where people can find out more. The next takes place on Tuesday 5 June at Loxley House, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2 3NG, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Councillor Mellen added: “Opening your home and your life to a vulnerable child is one of the most selfless things that a person can do. It will be challenging at times, of course, but the rewards are endless for both child and foster parent.

“I’d urge anyone interested in finding out more to attend one of our information evenings. There’s no pressure or expectation; just the chance to ask questions over a cup of tea.”

You can find out more about fostering with the City Council at www.fosteringnottingham.com or by calling 0115 876 3335. You can also find the fostering team on Facebook by searching for @fosteringnottingham.

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